UTAH JAZZ

Jazz Play-In Odds Take Hit With Overtime Loss To Lakers

Apr 4, 2023, 10:56 PM | Updated: Apr 5, 2023, 10:30 am

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz strung together a late 10-0 run but fell to the Los Angeles Lakers 135-133 in overtime putting their play-in hopes in peril.

LeBron James scored 37 points including nine points in overtime as the Jazz came up short in extra minutes.

Three Jazz players scored at least 22 points, led by Talen Horton-Tucker and Kelly Olynyk with 23 points each.

Play-In Tournament Odds Thin, But Not Gone

With Tuesday’s loss, the Jazz fell to 36-43 on the season with just three games left to play.

The 12th-seeded Jazz remained a game behind the idle Dallas Mavericks in the West, and couldn’t close the 1.5-game gap on the 10th-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Thunder could have eliminated the Jazz from the play-in picture with a win over the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco but blew a 10-point halftime lead falling 136-125.

Oklahoma City’s loss sets up a huge game on Thursday as the Thunder travel to Utah to face the Jazz with both teams’ play-in hopes on the line.

If the Thunder were to win, they’d move three games ahead of the Jazz in the win column with two games left in the season, ending the Jazz’s play-in hopes.

A Jazz win however would trim the Thunder’s advantage to just one game entering the final weekend of the regular season.

After facing the Thunder the Jazz will host the top-seeded Denver Nuggets on Saturday afternoon, before wrapping up the year in Los Angeles against the Lakers on Sunday.

The Thunder will have just one game left to play after facing the Jazz on Thursday, concluding their season against the Memphis Grizzlies in Oklahoma City on Sunday.

Sexton Shines In Return

Collin Sexton returned to the lineup after missing the last 18 games for the Jazz. After a slow first half, the high-energy guard gave the Jazz a major boost late in the third quarter and early in the fourth to keep the game competitive.

Sexton scored just four points on 2-7 shooting in the first half, but bounced back with 11 points on 5-7 shooting after halftime.

“It feels like he is just all competitiveness,” Will Hardy said of Sexton. “He gives our team such a lift, just energy-wise, like it is infectious — contagious.”

Sexton missed all five of his three-point attempts but shot 7-9 inside the arc again proving he’s difficult to stop when he gets into the paint off the dribble.

The guard also dished out three assists and turned the ball over only once in 16 minutes.

How many more appearances Sexton makes this season remains a guess, but the guard’s return to the lineup with just four games remaining and the Jazz facing a steep climb to make the play-in tournament is a promising sign of his dedication to the franchise.

“See how I feel in the morning and go from there,” Sexton said of his plans for the rest of the season. “I want to play it out and I’ll play to the end. That’s just my character. That’s just who I am.”

Damian Jones Shines Against Former Team

While it was Horton-Tucker who led the Jazz with 23 points against his former team, Damian Jones had perhaps the most eye-opening performance scoring 16 points and grabbing eight rebounds on a perfect 5-5 shooting.

Jones also knocked down all three of his three-point attempts and he continues to prove he’s worthy of sticking with the Jazz roster next season.

The six-year veteran has appeared in 16 games for the Jazz and has flashed his rapidly developing three-point shot kicking down 10-13 attempts, including 3-3 against the Lakers.

“If I’m open, they gave me the green light to shoot it,” Jones said.

Jones has traditionally spread the floor hanging out in the corners but even flashed his ability to shoot from above the break, adding another dynamic to the Jazz’s offense.

“Damian gave us the ability to switch and obviously offensively, he’s shown the ability to space in the corner and shoot catch-and-shoots,” Hardy said.

Walker Kessler will miss the rest of the season after suffering a concussion in the Jazz’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday, opening up critical minutes for Jones to close the season.

Jones has the ability to return to the Jazz next season on a one-year player option and would welcome the opportunity, but told KSL Sports he’ll discuss the situation with his agent before making his decision.

After he was traded to the Jazz in February, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that the little-used Jones would be a safe bet to pick up that player option.

However, if he continues to play as well as he did against the Lakers over the final three games of the season, other teams will likely show interest in the sharpshooting center.

Utah Jazz Next Broadcast

The Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder will tip off at 7 pm MT on Thursday. The game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet and can be heard on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. It can also be streamed on DirecTV Stream and FuboTV.

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, and video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott onΒ 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter atΒ @BensHoopsΒ or on InstagramΒ @BensHoops.

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Jazz Play-In Odds Take Hit With Overtime Loss To Lakers